The Conversation

The Pope: All Pope All the Time

Benedict Celebrates Last Public Mass as Pope

Feb 13, 2013 10:46 AM PT

Though my priest didn't speak of it, Pope Benedict XVI's retirement announcement was felt throughout this afternoon's Ash Wednesday mass. Today also marked Benedict's final public mass as our Holy Father:

Starting his public farewell to his flock, a weary Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his final public Mass as pontiff, presiding over Ash Wednesday services hours after a bittersweet audience that produced the extraordinary scene of the pope explaining his decision to step down directly to the faithful.

The mood inside St. Peter's Basilica was somber during the Mass, as if the weight of Benedict's decision and the finality of his pontificate had finally registered with the thousands of faithful present. But the basilica erupted in a rousing, minutes-long standing ovation as Benedict exited for the last time as pope, bringing tears to the eyes of some of his closest collaborators.

"We wouldn't be sincere, Your Holiness, if we didn't tell you that there's a veil of sadness on our hearts this evening," Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict's longtime deputy, told the pope at the end of the service, his voice breaking.

"Thank you for having given us the luminous example of the simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord," Bertone said, quoting Benedict's own words when he first appeared on the loggia overlooking St. Peter's Square after he was elected pope.

"Viva il papa!" the crowd yelled as Benedict stepped off the altar.

Hours After Pope Resigns, Lightning Strikes the Vatican ... Twice

Feb 12, 2013 10:33 AM PT

Most secular historians will tell you that with his 12 apostles, a man named Jesus walked the earth and was crucified for claiming to be the Son of God. You might not believe the "Son of God" part, but the rest is history documented in the Bible and elsewhere. At the request of Jesus, it was Peter who would build the Church and become its first Pope. This means that the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI represent a straight line all the way back to Peter, and therefore Jesus Christ.

As a believer raised in a secular family, and as someone who after much soul-searching due to the appalling child-rape scandal, chose to become a Catholic at the age of 43, the Pope's surprise resignation yesterday came as a significant blow. If you're not in the Church, you're not expected to fathom what the Holy Father means to those of us who are. And as only a three year-old Catholic, it's something I'm just starting to understand.

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The Pope and the dignity of resignation

Feb 11, 2013 4:50 AM PT

It takes greater courage to resign power, when appropriate, than to cling to it. Pope Benedict XVI may be the first to resign since the 15th century, but his example reminds us that resignation need not mean defeat. 

It is a lesson our American politicians have forgotten. The only notable recent resignation was that of CIA Director David Petraeus, over an affair. No one resigns on principle any more, never mind because of actual failure. White House adviser Dennis Ross could have resigned over Obama's ill treatment of Israel. Speaker John Boehner could have made a powerful statement by resigning when "Plan B" failed in December.

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